April 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Graeme REVELL
Collateral Damage  
  The Hollywood Studio SO * conducted by Tim Simonec * electronics pre-recorded by the composer and Robert Irving
  Varèse Sarabande VSD-6292   [35:27]

Following End of Days and The Sixth Day, Collateral Damage is Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest attempt to revive his flagging career as an action star. A terrorist/revenge thriller delayed because of the events of September 11 last year, the film has met with generally disappointing reviews, and if it all plays down to the standard of the music on this hollow album I can not say I am surprised. After such unmitigated mediocrity as the scores to Pitch Black and, Frank Herbert's Dune this finds Revell going through the motions for more uninspired, electronic rhythm patterns, here accompanied by the most generic of orchestral suspense/action riffing. It is the sort of thing anyone familiar with a midi/sampler set-up can knock up in a few hours. Revell just happens to replace the samples with real musicians.

Indeed a large orchestra is credited right down to the last player, but Revell gives them naught beyond finger exercises. This is the action movie scoring equivalent of painting by numbers, and there is nothing here anyone has not heard untold times before. Nothing sticks in the memory, not even the threadbare attempts at melodic material.

It would be execrable on a weekly cable TV show. As the score to a big budget would-be blockbuster release it beggars belief that any director, producer or studio could find it acceptable. How this man retains gainful employment on major features in the face of competition from many immensely talented yet shamefully overlooked composers becomes more of a mystery with each score he completes. Should anyone complain this isn't a review of the album but one long complaint against the composer, well, I've played the disc three times and I can't remember anything about it beyond what I've mentioned. If I played it three more times I doubt I'd remember any more. The only collateral damage is to the wallet of anyone who makes the mistake of buying it.

Gary S. Dalkin

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